Edo 2020 Election: Reaction, Counter Reactions Trail Governorship Primary
The crisis rocking the Edo chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is reaching the tip as the governorship election draws nearer.
Edo State government announced on Friday that it will be adopting an indirect primary against the decision reached by the National Working Committee led by Oshiomhole that the state APC should use a direct method ahead of the September 2020 governorship election.
The factional Chairman of the gathering, Anselm Ojezua said 300,000 people would be improper at the time the state is managing COVID-19 pandemic.
Ojezua said the decision was reached after stakeholders meeting at the State Secretariat in Benin city on Friday.
The National Working Committee (NWC) reported on Friday evening that it had adopted a direct primary which permits every single card-carrying member of the party to choose a governorship flagbearer.
From inception, the National Chairman of the APC and the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki have not been on the same page over the control of the state.
While Oshiomhole accused Obaseki of neglecting his unfinished projects and his loyalists, Obaseki cried that he was being targeted over his refusal to share Edo peoples’ money.
As the election approaches, it is expected that the duo will continue the war ahead of the primaries as a decision is reached on who wears the crown for the next four years.
Oshiomhole, the kingmaker, is rumoured to have an interest in his former ally, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who he had claimed was not suitable for the position in 2016 governorship election.
Speaking on the decision for the state to use indirect Primary, Ojezua said on Friday that “The NWC cannot decide the mode of the primary. The decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) is very clear and that is, every state will choose the mode of primary it wants and notify the NWC for them to act on.”
“In that regard, we have just concluded our meeting here today, made up of the State Executive Committee and the statutory national delegates to the convention.
“We have adopted the indirect primary method as the preferred mode for the governorship election. We are preparing the resolution and very soon, we will prepare a statement to that effect,” he said.
Members of the two camps who spoke with NAIJA CENTER reacted to the decisions from the governor.
While some believe Obaseki is in the right, some factional members argued that only the National office can wield such power and the third argued that only the court would decide the way forward.
Honourable Samson Osagie, a former Minority Whip of the Federal House of Representatives argued that the National Working Committee has the power to conduct primaries “for National Assembly, Governorship and Presidency”.
Speaking of the implication of Obaseki’s indirect primary move, Osagie said “The organ that has powers to organize primaries also has powers to determine the mode of primaries. Compare Articles 13(4) xiv on the Functions of the National Working Committee and Article 13(8)viii on the functions of the State Working Committee.”
“In any case how do their indirect primaries strategy guarantee social distancing at a Stadium where sporting activities has been banned? They are wallowing in desperation and ignorance of the Constitution. The direct primaries will afford party members limitless latitude in open fields at various wards to elect the party’s candidate,” he added.
“Anselm indicted himself by saying that Edo State APC has no valid register for Direct primaries, where will the delegates list come from, is it not the same register?
“I would have chosen to ignore comments on this futile mission to impose a rejected Governor on his party, but sometimes I cannot stand the obvious lack of commonsense on the part of some of his followers.”
When asked if Oshiomhole was rescinding on the decision reached by the NWC months ago to allow states to determine their preferred methods for the primaries, Osagie said “Let them show you the Resolution, Who took the decision. Edo is not Kogi or Bayelsa, are there no states that adopted Direct primaries?”
Kassim Afegbua, a member of the Peoples Democratic who served as a commissioner under Adams Oshiomhole’s administration argued that the National Chairman of any party be it the Peoples Democratic Party or the ruling party has the power to conduct primaries.
He said “A state chapter of any party be it PDP or APC does not have the power to conduct any primaries or the pattern of primaries. The constitution of the parties vests that responsibility on the National office of the party.”
Solomon Edebiri who also speak with NAIJA CENTER on the issue described the situation as complex.
“Good evening. It is kind of complex. I am one of those who wrote the APC constitution. I know as a fact that we have provisions for Direct, indirect primaries and also consensus candidate. There is a claim from Obaseki’s camp that States were asked to choose which kind of Primaries to adopt. The NWC also have the right. This is the current situation. We will monitor the events as they unfold and will keep you updated.”
Also, the state publicity secretary, Chris Azebamwan took a neutral position, saying “the decision on the mode of primaries is the exclusive preserve of the political party and its internal affairs. This is the position of the Supreme Court.
“The decision of the APC to adopt direct primaries in Edo State cannot be successfully challenged in court. Any action that is filed is an abuse of process and a deliberate ploy to delay the process. Let Obaseki quote the relevant section of the APC constitution”
A former aid to Governor Adams Oshiomhole who didn’t want to be named told NAIJA CENTER that Oshiomhole was in the wrong for the adoption of direct primaries.
“In the eyes of the law, APC under Anslem Ojezua is the authentic state leadership of APC, and by the party’s constitution, it is the state that recommends the shape and form of party primaries. So, Oshiomhole led NWC acted arbitrarily,” he said.
The National body that met at 7 pm, a holy hour on Thursday adopted a direct primary and the party in Edo State met today where I was physically present and adopted Indirect.
A former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ehigie Uzamere argued in favour of the state government.
For him, it was unreasonable and selfish for the National Working Committee to call for a direct primary when, the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole enjoyed indirect primaries during his two terms election.
Uzamere doubted the sincerity of the NWC decision as the meeting was held around 7 pm on Thursday.
Giving reasons why the state should adopt indirect primaries, the Senator said “There is COVID-19 ravaging the entire world. Only senseless group of persons will adopt that kind of thing because you are interested in your ambition yet, you want people to die.
“Allow the decision of the President or allow the court to decide where we are going. If we are not careful, what happened in Zamfara will happen in Edo State.”
On whether the governor has the power to make the decision, Uzamere said “that is left for the legal department to advise us. I am saying this is the decision of the party, we opt for indirect. Why would they say we should use directly when a few months ago, they use indirect in Bayelsa and Kogi State, even the two primaries that produced Oshiomhole as the two-term governor of Edo State used indirect, so what has become of them to say we must use direct?”
As for the general implication of the conflicting decision, the Senator said “the court will decide because we have Edo APC led by Anselm Ojezua and a faction led by Col. Imuse, so the question now is that who is going to handle the election in Edo? It is now left for the court to decide.
The last is not heard from both camps as the two giants will continue to employ tactics to outdo the other as the primary gets closer.